The St. Lawrence University women's basketball team fell to Vassar College on Saturday in the Burkman Gymnasium by the score of 64-60, as the Brewers won their third Liberty League Tournament title in the last four years to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Allyson Pemberton led Vassar with 24 points to earn Most Outstanding Player honors, while Allison Cady and Kara McDuffee were named to the All-Tournament team for St. Lawrence. Senior Kelly Legg hauled in a season-high 16 rebounds and had a double-double in the first half with 10 points and 11 boards.
Vassar's victory extends the streak of top seeds in the women's tournament not winning the automatic bid to eight years, as the Brewers head into the NCAA Tournament with a 22-5 record. St. Lawrence (19-8) had a 33-29 halftime lead, but went 3-for-14 with three turnovers in a 9:00 minute stretch in the second half to allow Vassar to pull ahead.
"I thought we really played well today, but we didn't shoot the ball well at all. We had a lot of good looks at the basket, but it just wasn't our day and didn't put it in the hoop," said St. Lawrence head coach Dan Roiger. "I felt like if we shot 1-of-3 from behind the arc, we'd win, but we were 5-for-21 and that just didn't get it done."
Pemberton's 24 points was a new career-high, while Cydni Matsuoka (13 points, five assists) and Hannah Senftleber (12 points, 10 rebounds) also earned spots on the All-Tournament Team. McDuffee finished with 16 points to pace St. Lawrence, while Cady added 15 and did an outstanding job guarding Matsuoka.
Legg and Cady anchored the Saints in the opening period, as they combined for 19 points while Cady held Matsuoka, the league's reigning Player of the Year, to a 1-for-6 mark from the field. Pemberton did her part to keep the visitors in the game with 11 points and five rebounds. Vassar held the lead midway through the half, but the Saints battled back behind 22 points in the paint to take the four-point 33-29 lead at intermission. The Saints held advantages in rebounds (21-17), assists (9-2) and second chance points (11-2).
St. Lawrence stretched its lead to seven early in the second half, but Vassar chipped away and pulled even at 45-45 on a lay-up by Senftleber with 8:50 to play. The Brewers took the lead on a three by Matsuoka, only to see McDuffee answer with one of her own to tie the game for the ninth time with 7:00 minutes to play.
The Brewers were not rattled, though, as Pemberton scored six points in an 8-0 run that vaulted the visitors into prime position to win the league title up 58-50 with 2:58 to play. McDuffee would answer again with an and-1 and a three pointer on back-to-back possessions, while Lauren Quattrocchi had an uncontested lay-up thanks to steal on the defensive end, pulling the Saints back within two, 60-58, with 1:10 to go.
St. Lawrence would have a chance to tie, but a shot clock violation gave the ball back to Vassar after a solid defensive stand. St. Lawrence fouled Caitlin Drakeley, who made both tries, and after a missed three by McDuffee with under :10 seconds to play, the Brewers were able to exhale and celebrate the 64-60 win.
Vassar was 14-of-16 from the free throw line in the second half, while St. Lawrence was only 4-of-5. The Brewers also shot 40% from the field (10-for-25) in the second, while the Saints managed only 10-for-31 (32%) and 3-for-10 from behind the arc.
"Vassar is a great team! That was an excellent game and it's not one I feel bad about losing," added Coach Roiger. "I think they will be a good representative of our league in the NCAA Tournament."
The Brewers will learn their opponent for the 2014 NCAA Tournament on Monday, and the Liberty League will release their All-Conference awards this week as well.